a (short) passage to india
by guest blogger, David Owen Hastings
INDIA I recently took a week-long trip to India. I can’t believe how many people asked, “You’re only going for a week?” but it’s true. I love international travel, but I also love being home, so a week it would be.
Next question friends asked, knowing that I love fabric: “Ooh, the fabric, will you be buying lots of fabric?” I surprised even myself with the answer to that one: no. But, I did visit some wonderful fabric shops, like this one:
The colors and textures were sumptuous and inspiring, but how could I choose just a bit of this and a bit of that? Instead, I used my camera to capture some of the wonderful colors and textures. I often use those photos as inspiration for my artwork and also for my quilting projects.
Our India tour also visited a few wonderful carpet shops… I seemed to gravitate towards the rich red carpets, set off by black and cream. It may be somewhat of my sister-in-law’s influence: she’s Palestinian, and there is a tradition of that color palette in Palestinian rugs.
Yes, our trip included lots of wonderful shops, but the real reason I went was to see the Taj Mahal. Ever since I was a kid, I have been fascinated by this structure. It was incredible to see it in person, and the subtle colors of the marble made a big impression on me.
I started photographing the marble mosaics that are in many of the monuments, temples and such in India. I especially gravitated toward the mosaics that were made of mostly white marble (which has a wonderful translucence to it) paired with natural hues. Some of these mosaics include semi-precious gemstones, but I tended to like the simpler, more gritty colors and textures.
Thanks to my friend Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts, I’ve been reinvigorated to try my hand at quilting. It also helped that I purchased a good quilting machine, instead of trying to make my 60-year-old Singer work. Here are a few images of a small quilt I have in progress. I started this before the trip to India, but it’s funny how the color palette is similar to the mosaics I saw in India. Some of the fabric is commercially-produced batik, and some I hand printed by stamping and sponging on acrylic paint. I mixed the two kinds of fabric into strips. I almost think the back is as cool as the front! Next step: I’m appliquéing some simple bird motifs across the strips of subtle color.